NASHVILLE, Tenn. —The Titans wrap up the season on Sunday in Indianapolis. The Titans (3-12) are coming off a 34-6 loss to the Texans, while the Colts (7-8) beat the Dolphins 18-12 on Sunday to keep their playoff hopes alive.
This week, I caught up with Mike Chappell, who has covered the Colts since they moved to Indianapolis in 1984, now with FOX 59/CBS4. You can follow Mike on Twitter @mchappell51.
TitansOnline.com looks back at the all-time series with the Indianapolis Colts. (AP Photos)
Wyatt:Andrew Luck has missed the last six games with a kidney injury, Matt Hasselbeck has a shoulder injury, and Charlie Whitehurst just went on Injured Reserve with a hamstring injury. Last week, the team signed Stephen Morris, and on Tuesday, the Colts signed free agent quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley. So, who's going to play quarterback for the Colts on Sunday?
Chappell:I asked (Colts coach) Chuck Pagano on Monday, "Let's say you sign a veteran quarterback who has played in the league, but maybe hasn't played in a while, and you have a guy who has been here for just a few days. Who (would start?)" He didn't really say. I am not so sure they don't go with Josh Freeman, but I just don't know. It's hard to figure out what they're going to do this early, so much has happened. At least Stephen Morris has been here (six) days, so he's had a little bit of work. But I guess you have to weigh, you have a guy who's never played but knows your system a little bit vs a guy who has not been here, but has played. So it's 50-50. I initially thought Morris would be the guy, but the fact Josh Freeman has played and Lindley has some, too. ... I really don't know at this point. … Heck, you can't even rule Luck out at this point. Really, it's flipping a coin right now. All it does is give us something to write about."
Wyatt:If it's Morris, is capable of getting the job done? He's never played in a game in the National Football League.
Chappell:Morris has only been here for (6) days, so would be risky. Other than he played quarterback at a major university (Miami), he has zero experience. He was with the (Jaguars and Eagles). But all he can do right now is say I've played quarterback. But how much of the playbook will he know? No matter who play this will be, from the Colts angle, very much like a fourth preseason game, where you just kind of play it close to the vest and try not to mess up. I think it is safe to assume no matter who they go with it would be a very basic offense.
Wyatt:Fans in Tennessee remember Hasselbeck. How has he performed there in relief of Luck?
Chappell:He started eight games, and he did OK. But he just got beat up. Chuck Pagano gave us a great quote last week when he said Matt's "beat up from the feet up." And that's pretty accurate. He played two games early and he had serious food poisoning that put him in the hospital, but he played. But he battled through that, and the longer the season has gone on the more he has been beat up. He separated two ribs against Pittsburgh, and that's what's really bothered him. Look at his stats and he has been less effective. He got knocked out of the last four games with injuries, so he's pretty well spent. He has a Grade 1 AC sprain in his right shoulder. He is listed as doubtful, but if I'm his wife I wouldn't let him play this week, it's just crazy. I think enough is enough with him. But Hasselbeck went 5-3 as a starter, and if they gave out a team MVP, it's Hasselbeck to me. He kept this season from really going in the dumpster. He kept them alive for a bit until his body broke down.
Wyatt:There's a lot of uncertainty there regarding the future of head coach Chuck Pagano. Everyone wants to know what owner Jim Irsay is going to do. What's the fan base in Indianapolis want him to do?
Chappell:The fan base wants Pagano gone, but they always kneejerk react. People need to keep in mind they won't fire Pagano, they just won't re-sign him. His contract is up, so there is a difference. It just seems inevitable. He turned down the one year extension in the offseason, and I think he felt it was a major disrespect that it was a one-year offer with a modest raise after three straight playoff seasons and three 11-win season. The owner then says "I'll give you a one-year extension with very little raise." The last three weeks it really seems like (Pagano) has been at peace with everything. He's been reflective and said "I'll be fine with whatever happens." I don't see many scenarios where (Pagano) comes back. The question here is whether Irsay pushes the reset button and gets rid of (general manager) Ryan Grigson too. If I am leveling blame, Grigson is more to blame than Pagano. This is his roster, he put it together. And with Peyton Manning, he covered up a lot of flaws. Luck did that, too. But with Luck not out there --- and he didn't play real well at the beginning of the season – all the flaws have been glaring. The offensive line is a mess, they still don't have much of a pass rush. And that's on Grigson. The Trent Richardson trade blew up in his face, and the 2013 first round pick Bjoern Werner was supposed to be their pass rusher of the future and he can't play, and that's on the GM.
Wyatt:Last thing here. The Colts have lost three of their last four, including a 45-10 loss to the Steelers and a 51-16 loss to the Jaguars a few weeks ago. They still have a chance to make the playoffs with a win, but they need a whole lot of help. What kind of performance are you expecting from the Colts on Sunday vs the Texans?
Chappell:* *I think you'll see good effort. I think they'll play hard, and they have some veterans who need to play well. I would do whatever it takes to get Frank Gore to 1,000 yards – he needs 109 yards to get there. They have the longest active streak – it's 49 games in the regular season – without a 100-yard rusher, which is obscene. So I think they'll try and get him to 100 yards. But at the same time, I think Tennessee will load the box and say "Try and beat us" with the quarterback. I would think they'd find a way to win this game, but it's going to be tough with an inexperienced quarterback.